Category Archives: International
NAIROBI, Kenya — Suspected Somali pirates fired on a U.S. Navy warship off East Africa early Thursday in what appeared to be a ransom-seeking attack on an American guided missile frigate, officials said.
The USS Nicholas returned fire on the pirate skiff, sinking it and confiscating a nearby mothership. The Navy took five pirates into custody, said Navy Lt. Patrick Foughty, a spokesman.
International naval forces have stepped up their enforcement of the waters off East Africa in an effort to thwart a growing pirate trade.
Last May, pirates chased a U.S. Navy warship and fired small arms fire at it. The ship, which had recently served as a prison for captured pirates, increased speed and evaded the attack. French and Dutch naval ships also have been attacked by pirates, said Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the British think tank Chatham House.
“If you think of the kind of young men who are doing this, they go out into the middle of the ocean in a tiny boat. They might not always make rational decisions, and they often attack things that are bigger than they should (attack),” said Middleton.
“It’s also quite possible that they don’t have a full understanding of the targets they are attacking. Perhaps they just see a big ship they think is a worth a lot of money,” he said.
Thursday’s attack came just shy of a year since pirates attacked the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama and took American Richard Phillips hostage. Phillips was rescued five days later when Navy SEAL snipers shot three pirates in a lifeboat.
The U.S. Africa Command said the five pirates seized Thursday would remain in U.S. custody on board the frigate for now. The Nicholas is home-ported in Norfolk, Va.
Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until an effective government is established on Somalia’s lawless shores. The country has not had a functioning government for 19 years.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan government said it fears a Taiwanese fishing boat may have been hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. Officials lost contact with the 79-ton Jih-chun Tsai 68 fishing trawler on Wednesday.
President: ‘Scientific arena is where we could defeat (West’s) domination’
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran announced Wednesday it has successfully launched a 10-foot-long research rocket carrying a mouse, two turtles and worms into space — a feat President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said showed Iran could defeat the West in the battle of technology.
The launch of the Kavoshgar-3, which means Explorer-3 in Farsi, was announced by Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as part of Iran’s ambitious space program.
It comes a year after Iran sent its first domestically made telecommunications satellite into orbit.
The program has worried Western powers who fear the same technology used to launch satellites and research capsules could also deliver warheads.
Iranian state television broadcast images Wednesday of officials putting a mouse, two turtles and about a dozen creatures that looked like worms inside a capsule in the rocket before it blasted off.
Vahidi gave no details on the research and the report did not disclose when or where the launch took place.
The rocket is the third in a series bearing the same name. Iran reported launching Kavoshgar-1, or Explorer-1, in Feb. 2008.
The first section of the rocket detached after 90 seconds and returned to earth with the help of a parachute. A second segment entered space for about five minutes, while the final section was sent toward orbit to collect data.
Later in 2008, a rocket entitled Kavoshgar-2, or Explorer-2, made it to the lower reaches of space and returned to earth 40 minutes later on a parachute. No details about that launch were reported.
‘Very big event’
Ahmadinejad praised the latest launch and said greater events would come in the future.
“The scientific arena is where we could defeat the (West’s) domination,” Ahmadinejad said in remarks broadcast live on state TV.
He said the launch is a “very big event. This is the first presence of animals in space launched by Iran. It’s the start of bigger achievements” to come.
Also Wednesday, Ahmadinejad unveiled a new domestically built light booster rocket, named Simorgh, as well as three Iranian-built satellites — Mesbah-2, Tolo and Navid-e-Elm-o-Sanat — all part of Iran’s observing the National Day of Space Technology.
Officials said the Simorgh rocket can carry a satellite weighing 220 pounds up to 310 miles above the Earth.
As it seeks to expand its influence in the Middle East, Iran touts such technological successes as signs it can advance despite the threat of U.S. and U.N. sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.
The West is concerned Iran is trying to build an atomic weapon but Tehran denies the charge and says it’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, such as electricity production.
Ahmadinejad said Iran built the Mesbah-2 with domestic technology after foreign partners refused to cooperate. He didn’t name any country, but Iran said last year that it plans to launch a communications satellite by late 2011 with no outside help, after Italy and Russia declined to put it into orbit.
Its predecessor, the Mesbah-1 satellite, was first displayed in 2005. Iran planned to launch it the same year with Russian help but Moscow repeatedly delayed providing a satellite-carrier.
“Mesbah-1 had a sad fate … they didn’t have the courage to launch our satellite,” Ahmadinejad said. He added that the Mesbah-2 would be launched using an Iranian-made rocket.
Iran’s lofty space plans also include putting a man in orbit within 10 years.
In 2005, Iran launched its first commercial satellite on a Russian rocket in a joint project with Moscow, which is a partner in transferring space technology to Iran. That same year, the government said it had allocated $500 million for space projects for the next five years.
The ceremony Wednesday was part of 10-day celebrations leading up to 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which falls on Feb 11.